Even the New York Times gets it:
In an attempt to rein in its reckless tabloid newspapers, Britain’s three main political parties this week agreed to impose unwieldy regulations on the news media that would chill free speech and threaten the survival of small publishers and Internet sites. The parties agreed to replace the newspaper industry’s self-regulating body with an independent agency that could levy fines of up to £1 million, or $1.5 million, order editors to issue prominent corrections and provide arbitration for people who believed they had been wronged by the press. Publishers who do not agree to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of this body — and many have already said they will not — could still take their chances in court but could be hit with higher, punitive fines if they were found liable.
Prime Minister David Cameron has argued that the plan will keep the press free because it will be enacted through a royal charter, which is technically not a law because it is formally issued by the queen, not Parliament. But that is a distinction largely without substance. In reality the proposal would effectively create a system of government regulation of Britain’s vibrant free press, something that has not happened since 1695, when licensing of newspapers was abolished. But the proposals do not stop there. Lawyers who have looked at the proposal say it would also cover Internet news and opinion sites outside the country that could be read in Britain.
Isn’t that the moment that someone around here should shout “come and get me, copper”? Rich, Rich….
The Times continues:
This proposal grew out of a desire to hold the industry accountable for the egregious actions of journalists at papers like The News of The World, now defunct, who hacked into the voice mail messages of people in the news including a missing 13-year-old girl who was later found dead. But such misdeeds are far better handled as violations of existing British criminal and civil laws, which already provide ways to prosecute and sue reporters for defamation or hacking.
The kind of press regulations proposed by British politicians would do more harm than good because an unfettered press is essential to democracy. It is worth keeping in mind that journalists at newspapers like The Guardian and The Times, not the police, first brought to light the scope and extent of hacking by British tabloids. It would be perverse if regulations enacted in response to this scandal ended up stifling the kind of hard-hitting investigative journalism that brought it to light in the first place.
Cameron has embarrassed himself, his government, his party and his country.
Apart from that he’s doing a great job